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Muriel Siebert & Co.


Will debt ceiling be raised? Palm Beachers ring in



By DIAN VUJOVICH
SPECIAL TO THE DAILY NEWS

With Congress still bickering, and given the tenor of the arguments, you'd think the debt ceiling had never been raised.

But it has -- dozens of times. Over the past 60 years, every president from Eisenhower to Obama has done it. And the most ambitious, President Reagan, raised it 17 times according to news reports.

We asked several Palm Beachers with various financial backgrounds and perspectives their thoughts about raising the debt ceiling, the possibility of default and whether the debt-ceiling and budget should be tied together.

Here are their thoughts:

Robert Harvey, Harvey Capital Management

Yes, I think (Congress) will pass something, whether it's on the deadline or after the Aug. 2 deadline.

Even if it is after that deadline date, we won't default on our debts. Congress will put some sort of patch in place so that doesn't happen. I don't think passing the deadline implies a necessary default.

But Congress has a lot of work to do and whatever gets passed is just going to be a starting point. A lot more work will have to be done. I think what Congress has to do is to get past this debt limit and then go back to the drawing board and do some major tax reform. By that I mean flatten the tax rate and create an energy policy.

If we had good policies in place in each of those areas I think we could really make the economy hum. But until we get that, I don't think it's going to hum and as a result I think the economy is just going to bump along.

Muriel Siebert, Muriel Siebert & Company Inc.

I am so disgusted with (Congress) at this point; if they can't agree on something, I don't think any of them should be returned to office. I'm serious; it's political garbage that they are playing.

Look, we have serious (financial) problems and they didn't happen overnight. But money has become global, the world is global, so the ramifications have become global. That makes our financial problems bigger and more serious.

But I don't know if they will raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2. I would say yes they will if they decide to raise it for a few months. But if they are going to extend it out past the election, I would like to send all of them home and tell them to take a long vacation because that would do no good. It would just continue the problems. And we have problems to face.

If they don't come to an agreement on the debt ceiling and Aug. 2 passes, we really don't know what the results will be and that worries me. Will the markets go ballistic abroad or will they say, "So what?" We don't really know.

But if the U.S. defaulted and Moody's or Standard & Poor's downgraded our debt, that would be terrible.

This is a great country and what we need are jobs not arguments.

Gail Coniglio, Palm Beach mayor

I do believe they will raise the debt ceiling but it will probably go to the 11th hour. So while I think that reason will prevail, I wish they would stop fighting.

Raising the debt ceiling makes the question about our country defaulting on its loans moot.

Regarding the debt ceiling and our budget, the two issues are linked. I would hope that once the debt ceiling issue is settled, that Congress would go back to the committee that did (President) Obama's study on solutions and look at that closely again. Hopefully, doing that would allow us to come to some budget solutions even though they may be painful ones to make.

So yes, the debt ceiling and the budget are topics that do go together. And I think the debt ceiling will be raised and we won't default on our loans.

Once that's settled then let us find peace as a country.

David Rosow, Town Council president

Yes, unfortunately I do think the debt ceiling will be raised. I think that's unfortunate because it's time for us to start getting realistic about our federal finances. It's time for us to start paying down the debt that we've accumulated rather than increase it.

So what we have to do is start downsizing our government. We have to downside the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

We've got to stop spending money just like we do as homeowners: When we have financial issues at home we face them and the same is true for with the financial concerns in the Town of Palm Beach.

I think that the debt ceiling and the budget are intertwined and they are intertwined because the president, in February, issued his budget program that added enormously to the country's debt. The debt ceiling is the result of the country spending too much money on things that we don't need right now. We need more revenue in the form of getting people to work and paying taxes. We don't need more spending of money we have to borrow. That's insane.


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